The Biggest Changes to Your Job Search

I was watching Back to the Future II the other day and noticed that “the future” on that infamous Delorean dashboard was 2015. 2015! Where are the hoverboards? Is anyone working on that? (actually, yes!) I find it hard to believe that we are in the year 2015 when 2005 feels like just yesterday.

In thinking of how quickly the last ten years have flown by, it dawned on me that this period has brought about some significant changes in handling a job search. As such, we present to you The Top Three Biggest Advancements in Job Searches, along with how to make some small changes to ensure these new developments work for you.

 

3) LinkedIn: It goes without saying that LinkedIn is one of the job search landscape’s biggest changes in recent years. While some regard it as the “professional Facebook” (not true!) and the profile as “just an online resume,” (also not true!) there is so much more to this significant career platform.

Scary Part: Not everyone loves LinkedIn and many more have just a very basic presence on there, believing they have fulfilled the LinkedIn requirement. Think again! People will look for you on LinkedIn and either not showing up or appearing like you don’t understand it can very easily work against you.

Make it Work for You: We suggest that you, regardless of level or sector, have a presence on LinkedIn and learn at least the basics of how it works, how hiring managers and recruiters use it, as well as a few “best practices” for effective LinkedIn profiles and messaging.

 

2) Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Not sure what an ATS is? Have you ever applied for a job on-line? If so (and that is the case for most at this point), your resume ­– and whole application – was automatically scanned by a computer program and scored based on how many key words in your application matched the key words for the job description. That score determines if your resume is sent to a hiring manger.

Scary Part: While you may be an excellent fit for a specific role, if your key words don’t match up, you are unlikely to move forward in the process (at least, if you only apply online).

Make it Work for You: Online job searches are great for researching what companies are hiring and you may have to apply online to at least be in their system. Take a second and tweak your resume to reflect their keywords before submitting it; small changes can have a big impact.

Additionally, and this is huge, go beyond applying online and connect with people directly at the organization to learn more about the role and company that can be helpful during an interview should you progress to that part of the process. The mini-goal? Start a conversation ­­– via email or LinkedIn – with an internal source; once you have an “in,” the ATS results won’t matter!

 

1) Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are now just the basics; Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr are all the rage and who knows what social media platform will be knocking on your digital door tomorrow? Some clients find that knowledge of these platforms are helpful for their job search and others find it to be either a hindrance or not really a source for leads…or is it that they don’t know where to look?

Scary Part: Social media can work for most in terms of finding opportunities (see “Make it Work for You” below) but everyone, everyone needs to put their profile privacy settings on high (for each profile you have) and think twice about what you post. What seems like a good idea in the moment can work against you if you forget that not all of your connections care to see what you did last weekend or are interested in your political leanings.

Make it Work For You: If you are in a sector where knowledge of social media should be on your profile (i.e., advertising, digital marketing, etc.) or are applying to a social media company (a role at Facebook or Twitter, for example), make sure to include knowledge of social platforms on your resume as well as start using said platform more frequently. Companies can track these things and do like to see organic, true familiarity with the platforms themselves.

For everyone else, source leads by identifying some companies you wish to target for your job search and start following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (at least). Interact with the companies and see with whom you can directly connect. Social media is a beautiful thing if you actually use it for digitally – and strategically – socializing!

 

Bonus! Smart Phones & Tablets: Ah, my iPhone; I don’t leave home without. Know the feeling? So do most hiring managers and recruiters; hiring work is often done on the fly these days, and that includes reviewing resumes for open roles. How does that impact you? See below:

Scary Part: Most “before” resumes that come my way need formatting work in addition to content overhauls. Poor formats are tough enough to read on a regular computer or laptop; add a smaller screen to the mix and your resume will likely head to the “trash” box in a matter of seconds.

Make it Work for You: If you know your resume format is a bit lacking, make some minor modifications to ensure it is visually appealing while still conservative. Some easy changes include updating the font to a sans serif (Calibri and Arial are easy on the eyes), selectively bolding a few key words or phrases that indicate your effectiveness or accomplishments, and using darker, muted colored bullet points (like dark blue or green) can jazz up even the most boring of resumes. Don’t forget to always send a PDF­­ ­­– Word documents can look different from device to device but PDFs are frozen!

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to find a Kickstarter campaign for some of the other Back to the Future inventions that we NEED; who’s in to fund some self-tying shoes? They would look great on a hoverboard!

 

Please note that a version of this post was featured on the Job Hero blog.

 

Job Search Fails

Did you recently embark on a job search? Do you REALLY want a new role? Are you sure? If so, let’s go over some pointers that I like to believe are common sense but, judging by some face-slapping-in-shock experiences with clients (some just recently!), a refresher is needed:

Preface #1: I am not much older than you (let’s just say that we are in the same generation) so this is not coming from the perspective of an antiquated, doesn’t-get-your-generation Baby Boomer (though I believe we have a lot to learn from the older generation too!).

Preface #2: Yes, common sense is a real thing that will get you far. Similar to newspaper use, common sense seems to be on the decline. For the benefit of your career, please don’t fall victim to this sad trend.

Preface #3: These are all real stories; identifying points have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

 

1) Texting During an Interview: Look, I love to text; it’s efficient, on my own time, and easier. I would prefer texting/Facebook Messaging/WhatsApping over an actual phone call any day. That said, please don’t text during an interview. Put. Your phone. Away! Bonus: Don’t just put it on vibrate; use the silencer mode.

2) Texting a Thank You Note: So, your interview is over, you feel great about your responses, and you are back to checking your phone. Text your mom/best friend/significant other about how you nailed the interview and are definitely getting the job. If at any point the following thought pops into your head, drop the phone and run away: “Hey, I am so good at texting and the interviewer loved me; I’ll just text my thank you!” Again, stop. Drop the phone. Run away from said phone until your common sense returns and then draft an email that you will send later that day once you had had a chance to review it. Bonus: An actual hand-written note, in addition to an email, is so rare these days that sending one is actually impressive.

3) Not Sending a Thank You At All: I still get shivers up my spine when I think of this one; a client once claimed he didn’t need to send a thank you because, “They really liked me and will hire me anyway.” Yes, they may have liked you and may still want to hire you regardless of whether or not you send a thank you but why gamble like that when it takes literally five minutes to send an email? Also, that “I’m infallible” perspective will likely end up hurting you more in the long run than you can possibly know.

4) Being Too Informal: If you haven’t picked up on it quite yet, I strongly believe in erring on the side of formality when it comes to one’s career search. Whether it’s your clothes in an interview or how you address an interviewer, your approach can make or break next steps. Please refer to the examples below.

 

  1. a) Dress For Success…Even If You Think You’re a Shoo-in: Earlier in my career, I worked for a prominent Wall Street bank and it was common practice for senior executives to request interviews for their college-aged children, relatives, close friends’ kids, etc. for different summer analyst roles. It was also standard practice to comply with said request (sorry, nepotism is real!). More often than not, the interviewee treated it as a real interview (since it was) and handled it with the utmost professionalism. One such student did not and showed up to a business-formal Wall Street bank dressed like her next stop was Burning Man. Furthermore, she made it  quite obvious during the interview that she believed she would just “get” the internship because her uncle was the Firm’s most senior C-suite execs. Let’s just say she didn’t “get” the role but your truly “got” to deliver the news to her uncle. Luckily, he understood!

 

  1. b) Address For Success (see what I did there?): Quite recently, I was working with a team on hiring an Executive Director role for a religiously affiliated non-profit organization. The candidate pool was narrowed down to three and final-round interviews started. One of the main hiring managers for this role was an ordained clergy member (a Rabbi) and while a fairly laid-back individual overall, she was surprised when a candidate referred to her by her first name during the interview. When it came time to determine who would get the job offer, she mentioned being put-off by the address gaffe and lack of respect for her role and she indicated wanting to go in a different direction. A new commandment: Thou shalt respectfully address your interviewers, especially if formal titles are involved!

 

If you are on this site and reading this post, I assume you truly want a great internship or job and I applaud you for that. A strong resume and LinkedIn profile will help you in that endeavor but so will using that innate common sense. It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew!

 

Could Your Smartphone Get You a Job?

Today’s technology has enabled smartphone users to stay connected with social media, the latest news, and newest apps almost anywhere. While it’s easy to check your friends’ status updates on Facebook and post up-to-the-minute accounts of your day on Twitter, perhaps there is now a more constructive use of down time with a smartphone – applying for jobs.

iApply on the Fly

A growing number of Fortune 500 companies have application sites customized for a smartphone screen, allowing job applicants to now peruse job openings and apply on the fly. From McDonald’s to Macy’s, an increasing number of companies are utilizing apps that allow professionals to apply for open positions on their iPhones, Droids, or other web-enabled devices. It is worth noting, though, that this movement may make things easier for potential employees, but adds a few extra steps to ensure the resume is noticed (by a system or actual human being).

It’s All About the Formatting, Baby

While most big companies will use apps that are formatted for a smartphone screen, it is still important to make your resume stand out both bigger and smaller displays. This can be easy if you know how to properly format your resume to gain maximum attention from a possible new employer. Pick a strong – but not overpowering – format that allows for “easy scanning” of your information, include a section of keyword or core competencies, and emphasize your accomplishments.

Better Format, Better Resume

Truthfully, a strong format is especially important here so let’s dig a little deeper: use certain key elements in your resume design to make your document engaging, but not “busy” or too overwhelming for a hiring manager. Our brains are always looking to break down information into smaller pieces that are easier to process – and technology is available to help do just that. Techniques like shading and bolding will help your resume seem easy to read while bringing out important pieces of information that will catch an employer’s eye.

Implementing these formatting techniques is something a good resume writer will know how to do and can utilize an individual’s experience to create an effective and attractive document. A customized resume will help draw an employer’s attention and help emphasize an employee’s best assets. After all, even on a small screen, a great resume could be the key to getting the job!

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Profile Basics & Your Resume

You have your basic LinkedIn profile set up and have included (please) a snazzy headshot, but how do you work in your resume? Should your profile and resume match? Although your resume is an important part of your LinkedIn profile, they’re not the same thing. In fact, the two are more like supportive siblings than identical twins: they should complement one another but not match (exception: your basic contact and job info should always be consistent between the two!).

While completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that it should be a good self-representation of where you want to go with your career while indicating that you have the foundation for it (again, similar to your resume…but not identical). Your profile should be straight to the point, but unique at the same time. Remember that others will be viewing your profile. It is a good idea for someone else (who knows you and your work) to review it and provide constructive feedback to ensure you are on the right track. View your LinkedIn profile as your image. Build it accordingly to create a powerful reflection.

Once you have the work/education basics in place, it is time to flesh it out with details. Concentrate on your accomplishments for each role and provide context if that would suit your needs. Additionally, indicate your Core Competencies in the Summary section (though they will be referenced again in the Skills/Expertise section; more on that later!).  Remember to read our post on Resume Don’ts (parts I and II); though it’s true that the two should not be identical, many of our guidelines here still ring true for LinkedIn!

We have much to cover regarding LinkedIn profiles–today’s post barely scratches the surface on how to handle the basic profile. Next up:

  • Creating a strong summary and how to obtain a unique URL.

Other upcoming profile topics include:

  • The importance of outside validation and strategies for obtaining it.
  • Why projects matter and how to work them in to your profile.
  • An overview on increasing your “Subject Matter Expert” presence and why you want to do that at all.

After we cover the profile, we’ll move into the amazing features built into LinkedIn and discuss how to maximize your usage of each one. Until then, remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

Credit Score and Jobs

Ever thought about the role a credit score plays in your job search? 750? 800? These aren’t just GMAT or LSAT scores. According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, an increasingly large number of companies are going beyond resumes and interviews by looking at job applicants’ credit history to get a more complete picture of an candidate’s background.While a well-written resume and online profile is a given, make sure you spend some time reviewing a recent credit report prior to interviewing for any career opportunities so that you can be prepared to proactively and strategically address any concerns instead of potentially being caught off guard later on.

We suggest spending at least one part of a quiet summer day not just reviewing your career goals but your credit profile as well.

With offices and affiliated writers in South Florida, Atlanta and New York, and a diverse clientele that includes professionals located in over 40 states as well as the Caribbean, Canada, and Europe, Refresh Your Step can help you with all of your career advisory needs including resume writing and updates, social media presence, interviewing preparation and career coaching.

It’s Your Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew. 

Credit Score and Jobs

10 Resume Don’ts (6-10)

It may not have been another 3-day weekend but hopefully it was pool-and-BBQ-weather where you live! Welcome back to our Ten Resume Don’ts, Part II. If you need a ReFresher on points 1-5, click here.

6. DUA – Don’t use abbreviations if you aren’t absolutely positive that the reader understand them.  A lot of people like to include very technical content in their resumes which is fine, especially if their field or background requires it. Far too often though, candidates include abbreviations and acronyms that may not be understood by a general recruiter or even an industry professional who may not be as involved in a particular subject matter, skillset, process or program. Make sure you either fully define any abbreviations or are very confident that anyone reading the resume will understand your references.  Ask us if you need advice!

7. Don’t rely on general statements regarding your achievements. In other words, be specific. For example, instead of mentioning how you increased sales during a given time period, make the point more powerful by saying how you increased sales of whatever product or service by (X%) over the last (Y) amount of months or years. Quantifiable objectives are easier to read and understand for most people. We have methods of helping you grab that info too!

8. Don’t forget to present your contact information clearly and concisely. Like many of these tips, this may seem obvious but it is definitely overlooked. Without a cover letter, this may be the only information a hiring manager or industry contact has about you so make sure it is clearly and accurately (typos in the email address or phone number are embarrassing and can result in you missing out on a potential opportunity to be contacted )represented on your resume.  And while you were at it, make sure you have a company or professional email address listed ([email protected] may be cute but you should probably create a more professional Gmail or Yahoo-based address for professional correspondence). Live email addresses and LinkeddIn profiles are a must as well!

9. Don’t make excessive use of different font types, SIZES and colors. Generally speaking, RYS is a big proponent of using bold, underline, italics, and other tools to make a resume stand out in a positive way; however, too much use of these can take away from the content and turn off the person reviewing the resume. If the reader can’t understand the content, it won’t matter how the resume looks.

10. Don’t SOLELY base your resume’s contact and format on what you think someone ELSE wants to see. All of the other tips included in this post notwithstanding, your resume needs to convey who you are and what makes you special. So while there are plenty of guidelines to follow to make sure your resume is accurate, informative, and engaging (all of which are very important), it also needs to tell your story and highlight your specific qualities so that the reader gets an understanding of who you are and ultimately wants to meet or speak to learn more about you.

We know that writing a resume can seem daunting and are always here for whatever level of involvement you ask of us and are happy to be a resource. Remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew. And enjoy your summer!

10 Resume Don’ts (1-5)

Memorial Day weekend–the unofficial start of summer–has now come and gone. As many people use the hot summer months to step away and think about their next career move, we have put together a list of resume don’ts to complement some of our other resume advice. So as you approach the next few months, don’t forget to put on sunscreen and use the tips below to make sure you–and your resume–are protected:

1. Don’t assume your resume has to be one page. While for some younger or less experienced professionals, a one-page resume may make sense, it’s okay to have a 1 1/2 or 2-page document if that document captures the relevant highlights and proficiencies you want a hiring manager to see as a first impression.

2. Don’t then assume that your resume needs to be 5 pages either. Yes, you may be important and experienced and have a lot to share. Some of that can be saved for a subsequent meeting or interview. The resume still needs to be succinct so that someone can quickly look through it to get a sense of your background and accomplishments without feeling like they are reading a book. Some of our Advanced Professionals/C-Level clients had far stronger documents once we stripped them down to a more manageable 2-3 pages.

3. Don’t lie. Ever. Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again. A good resume reflects the best of a person without crossing the line. Every detail of your resume should be presented with the assumption it will be fact-checked by someone during the hiring process. It is absolutely okay to build yourself up and make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible (it’s our job to know how and what the limits are!). But don’t…

4. Don’t submit a resume without running a spell check. And then check the proper nouns and other words (i.e company and town names) that aren’t in the dictionary. No matter how great your resume is, you will likely lose credibility if you spell the name of a state incorrectly (for those of you laughing, this happens a lot more than you think). We’ve also received resumes with obvious date mistakes (like the client whose resume indicated a job start in 1876). YIKES.

5. Don’t assume that content is the most important component of a resume. Of course, it is very important and as mentioned above, it needs to be accurate. But perhaps as important  as the content, is the format and style. Your resume needs to stand out to engage someone. If it is just a list of bullets, it may not get the attention it deserves, especially if it is being reviewed by a hiring manager, who has 100 others to skim through to decide the few candidates to recommend for the next round. Remember to check out some of our Case Studies and ask if you want to see more examples!

Check back early next week for tips 6-10! Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

How Your Smartphone Could Get You a Job

Today’s technology has enabled smartphone users to stay connected with social media, the latest news, and newest apps almost anywhere. While it’s easy to check your friends’ status updates on Facebook and Twitter, this WSJ article highlights another use for down time with a smartphone – applying for jobs. 33% of Fortune 500 companies have application sites customized for a smartphone screen, and the trend keeps growing. From McDonald’s to Macy’s, more and more companies are utilizing apps that allow professionals to apply for open positions on their smartphones. This movement may make things easier for potential employees, but it also means that applicants will need to think about how their resume looks on a small screen.

When applying for a job using your phone, it makes sense to think that hiring managers may be looking at your application on their phones. While most companies will use apps that are formatted for a smartphone screen, it is still important to make your resume stand out on an even smaller display. This can be easy if you know how to properly format your resume to gain maximum attention from a possible new employer.

Using certain key elements in your resume design will make your document engaging, but not “busy” or too overwhelming for a hiring manager. Our brains are always looking to break down information into smaller pieces that are easier to process – and technology is available to help do just that. Techniques like shading and bolding will help your resume seem easy to read while bringing out important pieces of information that will catch an employer’s eye.

Implementing these formatting techniques is something a good resume writer will know how to do and can utilize an individual’s experience to create an effective and attractive document. A customized resume will help draw an employer’s attention and help emphasize an employee’s best assets. ReFresh Your Step’s Resumes & Cover Letter services can do just that – check out our Before & After results to see what we can do for your resume. After all, even on a small screen, a great resume could be the key to getting the job!

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern